After the slave colony of Sierra Leone, New Zealand became the second global mission field where the British-based
humanitarians known as the Church Missionary Society (CMS) dedicated themselves to working exclusively among an indigenous people.
The evangelical group, which embraced Wesleyans and other dissenting groups including Lutherans, was something of a rebel movement that became frustrated with waiting for the Church of England to get involved in missions and did it themselves.
While the idea of a mission to New Zealand was first discussed by the London Mission Society (LMS) in 1800 it was the affinity Rev Samuel Marsden found for the Maori he had encountered in New South Wales that gave him a passion to establish a mission in New Zealand. He was given permission to do so in 1809 but circumstances prevented this until 1814.
* 12 April 1799: A group of influential evangelical leaders, tired of waiting for official Church of England approval, formed The Society for Missions to Africa and the East
* The founders and supporters included 25 members of the evangelical social reform group known as the Clapham Sect.. These included English banker, philanthropist and parliamentarian Henry Thornton, evangelical church leader Charles Simeon, the rector of Clapham Common Henry Vennand his son John Venn and parliamentarian and reformer William Wilberforce.
* Founding president Rev John Venn, wryly stated this movement should “be conducted on the Church principal but not on the High Church principal”
* Anglican bishops oppose ordaining for the missionary field
* John Venn suggested artisan laymen could help civilise ‘natives’ ready for Christianity. These catechists would teach, pray, baptise and train ‘natives’ for ministry. No communion.
* The bishops said no way, unless they knew Greek and Latin and were ordained. The term ‘catechist’ was dropped.
* Church Missionary Society (CMS) approval held up for a year and another three years to find the right recruits.
* After protracted debate with the Anglican hierarchy, The Society for Missions to Africa and the East was officially renamed the Church Missionary Society (CMS).
* After 15 years the CMS had only sent out only 24 missionaries, 18 of them German Lutherans and only seven Englishmen; three to Sierra Leone, the first established mission.
* Wilberforce and HenryThornton CMS/Clapham Sect) send Richard Johnson as chaplain to New South Wales penal colony with Samuel Marsden as his assistant.
* 1800: LMS first propose a mission to New Zealand
* 1800: Marsden, son of a blacksmith and farmer who had links with the Wesleyans but had been recruited for the Anglican ministry in 1786, replaced Johnson as both magistrate and chaplain to the colony.
* Marsden stood no nonsense from the convicts and detested their harsh treatment of the Aboriginals but found both ‘stony ground in which to sow the seeds of the gospel’.
* 1801: Marsden became advisor to the London Missionary Society (LMS) in its Tahitian mission.
* 1804: British and Foreign Bible Society formed; Church Missionary Society enters Sierra Leone
* 1807 & 1809:After engaging with a number of Maori in New South Wales Samuel Marsden, during visits to England persuades the CMS to establish a mission in New Zealand using artisan missionaries.
* 1814: Samuel Marsden’s first sermon on New Zealand soil at Oihi Bay, Bay of Islands, Christmas Day